Key and Peele and the world's cutest cat blow stuff up in the trailer for 'Keanu'
Credit: New Line

Key and Peele and the world's cutest cat blow stuff up in the trailer for 'Keanu'

April 22nd can't get here soon enough

When I was at Comic-Con in 2014, one of the things I had to do moderate the panel for Sony's Goosebumps. I was in the green room getting ready for the appearance when a huge group of people walked in to get ready for another one of the panels. I immediately recognized both Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key, and made a beeline for… Peter Atencio, the director of their beloved Comedy Central series.

Because as much as I love Key and Peele as performers and writers, what made that show such a special thing for me was the razor-sharp work done on the film and television parodies. Atencio has such a fantastic eye for the small details that make something recognizable that you can set his work right next to the original and all that separates them is attitude. Parody is incredibly difficult to get right, and Atencio approaches everything with such a keen awareness of genre that he elevates the joke, giving Key and Peele a tremendous stage for their work.

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Did 'Star Wars' just send James Cameron and Steven Spielberg running?
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Did 'Star Wars' just send James Cameron and Steven Spielberg running?

How overloaded can one release date be?

So who blinks?

One has to assume there's no way both Ready Player One and Avatar 2 end up coming out on December 15, 2017 now that Star Wars Episode VIII has moved its release date. In both cases, there are reasons to expect that they wouldn't want to go head to head with Star Wars.

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How many times can George Miller say he is making more Mad Max films?
Credit: Warner Bros

How many times can George Miller say he is making more Mad Max films?

At what point do we believe him and stop reporting the opposite?

The Internet often feels like a gigantic game of telephone, and it can be exhausting trying to sort out what is true and what is false when you see outlets picking up stories and running them without any additional reporting, and often without taking even a moment to consider if a rumor makes sense.

George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the most exciting success stories of 2015. Heading into the year, everything I was hearing from inside Warner Bros. was about how nervous the film made them and how there were execs at the top levels of the studio who simply didn't know what the hell they'd made. I had spoken to people who saw early test screenings, and the word from them was far more positive. I personally was just hoping for something fun. I was not prepared for the actual film Miller made, and watching him exceed all expectations has been delightful at every step.

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This first look at 'Pee-Wee's Big Holiday' is a delightful tease
Credit: Netflix

This first look at 'Pee-Wee's Big Holiday' is a delightful tease

A new Pee-Wee movie in March? Thanks, 2016!

It has been way too long since we've seen Pee-Wee Herman in a movie.

One of the unexpected pleasures of the last decade has been seeing the return of Pee-Wee to his rightful place in pop culture. I was sure when Paul Reuben was arrested in the early '90s that he had successfully killed his most famous creation, and for a while, it seemed like that was the case. I suspect Reuben was happy to see Pee-Wee go at that point. When I met him in that era, he seemed like he was running from the character. He couldn't have looked any less like Pee-Wee with his long hair and his full beard and mustache, and he got visibly irritated when people would walk up to him and talk to him about Pee-Wee.

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How important is it for actors to look like who they play in a biopic?
Credit: Richard Feiner and Company Inc

How important is it for actors to look like who they play in a biopic?

Casting for a new Laurel & Hardy film has us considering the question

Jeff Pope's script for Philomena was a low-key winner, smart about the way it approached a painful and difficult subject. Pope was nominated for an Oscar along with Steve Coogan, who shared the writing credit, and while they didn't win, it must have been a good experience. After all, Coogan's just agreed to star in Stan & Ollie, the latest script by Pope to make it to the screen, and John C. Reilly has signed on to co-star, with Jon S. Baird (Filth) set to direct.

Over the years, I've read lots of stories about tensions behind the scenes with some of Hollywood's great comedy teams, and I am curious to see what Pope and Baird do with the story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Wisely, they are focusing on a specific moment in their careers, rather than trying to tell the entire story. Set during their farewell tour of the UK in 1953, the film catches the team well after their heyday, and it deals with the way the two of them manage their personal and professional relationships after decades of working together. It sounds, based on the Variety article with the quotes from Jeff Pope, like a passion project for the writer.

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Mark Protosevich hired to rewrite Matthew Vaughn's 'Flash Gordon' for Fox
Credit: Universal Pictures

Mark Protosevich hired to rewrite Matthew Vaughn's 'Flash Gordon' for Fox

What makes Mark the right guy to write this script?

When George Lucas first broached the subject of following up American Graffiti, he proposed a bigscreen version of Flash Gordon, which was owned by Universal at the time. Instead, he went on to make the first Star Wars film for 20th Century Fox. Of course, Fox no longer has anything to do with Star Wars, which was sold to Disney, and Fox could use a little space opera magic of their own right about now. And, in no small bit of circular irony, it appears that it is the very property that sent George Lucas running to Fox in the first place that they're turning to for relief.

On his Facebook page today, screenwriter Mark Protosevich announced that he's writing Flash Gordon for 20th Century Fox, with Matthew Vaughn attached to direct. That is just plain great news. Protosevich has been first guy in on any number of intriguing geek properties over the years, and he wrote a draft of John Carter Of Mars that was one of the best action/fantasy scripts I've ever read.

Vaughn and Protosevich have been in each other's orbit before this, but I'm not sure to what extent. Protosevich did a pretty great job with an early pass at Thor, and there was a point where Vaughn and his co-writer/creative partner Jane Goldman were almost on Thor, and I'm curious if it was the Protosevich that got them interested in the first place.

"I can't wait to get started and if you're curious about the take? I'm not saying a word. All I'll say is this - it will be nothing like any version of Flash Gordon you've seen."

That's what Protosevich had to say about it before going silent again, and I'm thrilled for him and for Vaughn. Vaughn came onboard last year, when the script was still credited to J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay. Now it appears they're bringing in a new writer and they're hopefully picking up steam. I'd really like to see this film, because it's up to Matthew to create a brand-new version of something that has been iconically defined several times.

Perhaps he'll save every one of us.

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JJ Abrams pulls a sneaky and releases a surprise '10 Cloverfield Lane' trailer
Credit: Bad Robot/Paramount

JJ Abrams pulls a sneaky and releases a surprise '10 Cloverfield Lane' trailer

If you're always surprising people, is it ever surprising?

JJ Abrams, you sneaky sumbitch.

If reports from around the country are true, then JJ Abrams and Bad Robot managed to sneak a trailer for a film called 10 Cloverfield Lane into theaters in front of the new Michael Bay film 13 Hours tonight.

The first time around with Cloverfield, I stumbled right into the middle of their super-secret trailer release and accidentally gave away the whole game without knowing what I was doing. I didn't really know what the movie was that the trailer was for, and was just intrigued by the idea that the trailer was actually shot before they had made the actual film, and that they had put together this sort of "what the hell is this?" teaser that was designed to just land without any advance warning.

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark signs Guilermo Del Toro to direct because duh
Credit: Harper & Row

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark signs Guilermo Del Toro to direct because duh

Well, that just makes sense

Guillermo Del Toro and Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a marriage that should result in the birth of glorious nightmares for an entire generation of kids.

The original Alvin Schwartz books were smart, savvy collections of stories that had been told and retold, like a Grimm Bros. collection for campfire tales, and Stephen Gammell's illustrations in the original editions of the books are a big part of the reason they were as memorable as they were. In late 2013, Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan set the project up at CBS Films. They were originally set to write the film. In late 2014, the property changed hands, and John August was brought in on the rewrite.

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We terrify Film Nerd 2.0 with 'Alien,' 'Aliens,' and the 'Star Wars Holiday Special'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

We terrify Film Nerd 2.0 with 'Alien,' 'Aliens,' and the 'Star Wars Holiday Special'

Which one of the three do you think finally broke the kids?

Tears running down his face, the seven-year-old said, "Stop, Daddy! Stop! I can't take it anymore!"

Considering the strange holiday line-up that I shared with Toshi and Allen, ages ten and seven, it is little wonder it almost ended in tears. But what kind of tears and why is a little less cut and dry than I might have supposed when this recent run of programming first came together.

I've been seeing someone for a little while now, and it's been nice. She's met the boys and they like her tremendously, and vice-versa. The Monday after the film opened, the four of us went to see The Force Awakens together, the second time for the kids, the first time for her, and it was a great evening. They were excited about the film, about the evening out, about Star Wars in general. She was the one who brought up The Star Wars Holiday Special because she had just encountered it on YouTube, and her horror at its existence was still fresh. The last time I tried to watch the thing was at least ten years ago, and most likely longer than that. I find it almost wholly undigestible, and like many truly terrible media abominations, I have to watch it in small chunks to even begin to make it through.

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Marvel's Phase Three signs another strong filmmaker with Ryan Coogler for 'Black Panther'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel's Phase Three signs another strong filmmaker with Ryan Coogler for 'Black Panther'

Marvel's killing it with their directorial hires right now

Ryan Coogler is, frankly, the only choice Marvel could make for Black Panther.

Creed, which landed at the number four spot on my end of the year top ten list, is one of those films I've seen several times now and each time, I see something else about it that I find impressive. Coogler made a strong debut with Fruitvale Station, but his technical work on Creed is on a whole different level. What strikes me most about his work is how deceptively simple his visual plan for the film was, because there are some really sophisticated sequences that audiences most likely never think about twice in terms of how they were created. There are invisible visual effects that audiences didn't register at all, and there are some terrific bits of action staging during the fights.

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